17 August 2006

Eric's Saga

Eric Raymond - ESR - is a curious chap.

Interviewing him was definitely one of the highlights of researching my book Rebel Code: there was a thoughtful intelligence behind his replies that seemed perfectly of a piece with his most famous contribution to the open source world, The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

And then we have Eric's blog, entitled "Armed and Dangerous." The kindest thing I can say about this is that here ESR comes across as a thinking person's Michelle Malkin.

It therefore comes as something of a relief to see that Eric has posted very little to his blog recently. Indeed, he's generally pretty low profile these days, which makes his appearance at LinuxWorld and the dispensation of traditional non-blog Eric wisdom there all-the-more welcome.

According to The Reg:

Raymond said the community is not moving fast enough to engage with non-technical users whose first-choice platform is either an iPod, MP3 player or Microsoft desktop running Windows Media Player.

With iPod holding a massive market share and Windows Vista coming down the pipe, Raymond warned that Linux risks getting locked out of new hardware platforms for the next 30 years unless it proves it can work with iPods, MP3s and WMP.

I think this is a good point: for many, computers are really just big bits that you attach to an iPod or MP3 player, and so it's vital that GNU/Linux be able to play nicely here.

Fortunately, the WMP side is being sorted, and the MP3 handling was always quite good. The main problem is really Apple, with its wretched DRM. It's hard to see Steve Jobs finally seeing the light (he's probably too blinded by his own aureole), so it's clearly down to the community to come up with solutions.


Twid said...

I'm not sure that I understand your point. Apple iTunes and iPod handle MP3 just fine, along with unprotected AAC, which is an open standard, and h.264 video, also open.

The Novell/Real thing just allows access to non-DRM WMF, and has nothing to do with DRM-protected formats.

Consumers who want to have many options to connect their iPods to Linux and play their MP3 format music. Consumers who don't care can buy music from the iTunes music store. What's the problem?

Glyn Moody said...

Strange - I replied to this the other day.

What I said was that it's the DRM'ed Apple stuff that's the problem, and presumably what ESR was mostly talking about.